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The Development Project - Frequently Asked Questions

Spurn Credit David NicholsSpurn - Credit David Nichols

As Yorkshire’s very own ‘Land’s End’, and with an array of internationally important wildlife habitats, Spurn’s iconic landscape has been a draw for visitors for generations. A constantly changing feature of Yorkshire’s coastline, and always at the mercy of the elements, no two days at Spurn are ever the same. This creates a relentless challenge for those responsible for its care.

On this page we provide more information which we hope answers a number of key questions that have been asked during the development project.

Q: WHY BUILD A VISITOR CENTRE?

A: There are two extremely important reasons –

  • Spurn is an internationally important nature reserve with sensitive, diverse and wildlife-rich habitats. Large numbers of people still travel to Spurn every year to enjoy its unique landscape, heritage and wildlife. A dedicated facility is needed to inform and inspire people about the natural landscape they have come to enjoy and to communicate the impact their visit can have on the wildlife and habitats. Such understanding significantly increases the likelihood that people will adhere to designated access routes and follow other advice across the Reserve – this is the best way we can protect Spurn and its wildlife for the future.
  • Spurn is now a ‘tidal island’ with unpredictable tidal areas that can isolate the reserve from the mainland. Its extensive ‘human history’, including its former defence role, has also left a legacy of fascinating but derelict buildings and hidden structures. As owners of the reserve, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has a duty of care to visitors to minimise any risks associated with their visit. Maximising engagement with visitors ensures we can achieve this to the very best of our ability.

Q: WHERE IS THE ‘DISCOVERY CENTRE’ SITED?

A: It is located at the northernmost point of Spurn National Nature Reserve – outside the boundary of the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a natural entry point for visitors.

Q: WHY WAS THIS LOCATION CHOSEN?

A: Siting the Centre outside the SSSI reduces the current visitor and traffic pressure on the fragile and heavily protected landscape in terms of car parking and unmanaged/uninformed footfall. The site provides suitable land for a fit-for-purpose car park directly opposite the Centre and its position allows the maximum number of people to be engaged with before they enter the Nature Reserve. A flood bank and existing scrub offer natural screening, minimising the visual impact of the building and it is positioned away from existing residential properties. Importantly it offers fantastic views of the Reserve and estuary with excellent wildlife viewing opportunities.

Q: WHY COULDN’T EXISTING BUILDINGS OR ALTERNATIVE LOCATIONS BE USED?

A: Potential alternative locations and existing buildings were assessed and compared before deciding on developing a new build on its chosen site. The Blue Bell Café, which for many years has provided some car parking, visitor refreshments and facilities was one such option. It was recognised that this was sited a considerable distance away from the narrowest point of entry to the Reserve making it difficult to capture the maximum number of the visitors to provide safety and wildlife information; the layout of the building does not meet the stringent guidelines needed to ensure full accessibility for all visitors; it offers no flood resilience; and the car park falls significantly short of being able to cater for traffic volume at peak times and does not allow for extension. Other locations and build options also all fell short of meeting these and additional strict assessment criteria needed for Spurn such as minimising impact on wildlife and proximity to Kilnsea village.

Q: WON’T THE CENTRE FLOOD?

A: The area is within a flood zone – as is most of Spurn and much of the surrounding area. Developing a new build has enabled us to design the centre with a flood resilient basement. There are no operational or visitor facilities in this lower part of the building and hence allows the centre to become operational again within days, rather than weeks, of flood waters receding and at minimal cost.

Q: WHAT IMPACT HAS THERE BEEN ON THE WILDLIFE AT SPURN DURING THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE CENTRE?

A: Minimising any negative impact on wildlife and habitats has been, and continues to be, the primary consideration for Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. All work onsite has been carried out in accordance with a Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP): Existing trees and shrubs were protected from construction activity and retained wherever possible. The one or two bushes that had to be removed, were carefully checked for breeding birds, amphibians and reptiles by the Ecological Clerk of Works ahead of any work to ensure there were no active nesting or breeding sites. The Ecological Clerk of Works was also present while any removal took place. The ground and root systems around and within any construction areas were also checked before any works were undertaken.

The development has resulted in a net gain of over 8500 m2 of enhanced habitat (with only 4500m2 lost to the centre and carpark) and in addition, 13,000 m2 created and enhanced through the demolition and clearance of old derelict buildings in the Warren area and through additional planting of trees and bushes. Construction traffic and disturbance has been kept to a minimum by using ‘modular build’. This means the building was primarily constructed off site and brought to site in sections over a two day period.

Q: WHAT BENEFITS DOES THE CENTRE OFFER WILDLIFE?

A: Use of a dedicated centre offering a range of informative measures to naturally funnel people onto a nature reserve is proven to help safeguard wildlife. It is a model successfully utilised by Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and similar organisations such RSPB and National Trust across sites which attract a heavy footfall. Educating and inspiring visitors means they will be more likely to adhere to access routes and other advice across the Reserve and leave with a greater understanding and appreciation for wildlife both within the immediate vicinity and beyond. Experience from similar facilities also shows that a large number of visitors are often likely to remain within close proximity to such a centre, again minimising pressure on more sensitive areas of the SSSI to the south. Additionally, new nesting, breeding and feeding areas for migrant birds and other key species are being developed and the centre has a 'living' roof to attract native wildlife.

Q: HOW HAS THE CENTRE BEEN PAID FOR?

A: The development has been funded by energy provider E.ON through its Humber Gateway Offshore Wind Farm Community Fund and by the Coastal Communities Fund as part of the Great British Coast, administered by the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Q: WHY HAS E.ON INVESTED IN THE CENTRE?

A: Climate change is having a major impact on people and wildlife. Reducing energy consumption and switching to renewable energy are two ways of reducing the scale of climate change. This vision is shared by E.ON and Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and there was a natural synergy between the two organisations in wanting to promote environmental protection. Nowhere is this more apparent that at Spurn where rising sea levels will have a major impact on the habitats of the Spurn area. As E.ON built the Humber Gateway Windfarm offshore of Spurn, they looked for major projects in the vicinity where they could improve the area for locals and visitors and try and promote the messages of the importance of renewable energy supplies in tackling climate change. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust had long sought funds to improve the visitor facilities at Spurn in order to protect the wildlife of the site and to inspire the many visitors about it. These ideas came together and the concept for the Spurn Discovery Centre was born.

Q: WHO WILL RUN THE CENTRE?

A: The Discovery Centre will be run by staff of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust supported by a team of volunteers and trainees.

Q: WHAT HAPPENS TO ANY PROFITS MADE BY THE CENTRE?

A: Like any charity, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust has to fundraise every pound it spends. And every pound raised is spent on its charitable aims – nature conservation in Yorkshire. As a charity it has no mechanism to make a profit. All profits generated by the Centre will be invested directly back into our conservation work at Spurn and elsewhere.

Q: I LIVE LOCALLY. HOW WILL I BENEFIT FROM THE CENTRE?

A: East Yorkshire is at the forefront of a growing ‘nature tourism’ industry and other locations in the region are reaping the benefits from this. Despite its amazing natural and cultural heritage, Spurn is falling behind and is a missing link in a network of regional wildlife watching centres. It can, and should, play a key role in driving a vibrant local economy for its community, placing Spurn and surrounding area firmly on the national and international tourism stage. You will be able to continue to enjoy Spurn as you do now, with the benefit of knowing that visitor traffic will be successfully managed and fully informed. Additional car parking at the Centre will reduce the impact of visitors’ cars on Kilnsea village and the facilities available will be of benefit to local people and visitors alike.

Q: I’M FROM OUTSIDE THE LOCAL AREA. WHAT WILL THE CENTRE OFFER ME?

A: We recognise a trip to Spurn takes effort and planning. On arrival, you will receive the warm, professional and informed welcome you expect and deserve to receive from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust. The Centre will help ensure you have the safest and most enjoyable and informative visit to Spurn, one that will not disappoint and will want to repeat – remember, no two days at Spurn are ever the same!

Q: WHEN WILL THE CENTRE OPEN?

A: The centre will be fully open to the public from Spring 2018. The opening times will be daily from 9am to 5pm.

Q: HOW CAN I FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE DEVELOPMENT?

A: All development updates are displayed (hard copies) locally on site and on the Blue Bell Café notice board. Please keep checking the webpages too for updates and additional information.